Thursday, June 8

Interview with Snah

Motorpsycho's latest effort "Black hole/Blank canvas" was released in March without any supporting activities by the band (e.g. interviews, videos, a single). Oddly enough though the band was only available to the Japanese press for a handful of interviews. Resident Japanese psychonaut Akane has been so nice to transcribe, translate & share one of the interviews with us, so if you haven't read it yet at g35 or in the forum you can now do so here:

SNOOZER 06/2006
(released on May 11th, 2006)
transcription & translation by Akane Nakumura

Q: How do you think about the result of the new album which was released about 3 and a half years from "It's A Love Cult"?

SNAH: I'm very satisfied with this one, which was done by only two guys. Me and Bent were only two at the recording. When Geb left the band about two years ago, I had no idea actually. I really had no idea what we were gonna better to do. But we just wanted to make the music which we really want to create, it was the only thing we could continue to do. When we were making new album, we didn't have a chance to meet other drummers, so we, two, just went to the studio, winter to spring of one year ago, we really worked very thoroughly to make songs. Then we thought that we could make enough songs, then we started recording immediately. "We'd love to record these right now!" it was just like that.

Q: How was the way of Geb who was a long time druumer for your band left the band?

SNAH: He had a lot of side projects and he started to devote time for them. It was not a bolt from the blue. We expected that he might do it, so when he said that he liked to quit Motorpsycho and wanted to go as his own name, I wasn't that much surprised. Geb lost his mind as wanting to continue this band, I think. It's just alright. Life is like that and people go on the way like that. It can't push too hard. We never had any argument or thump-up, he's still a good friend.

Q: You didn't add a new member, instead of that Bent played drums this time, what made difference through the recording by that alteration?

SNAH: It was a lot. The rhythm which serve as a basis of the band had changed. It was after 15 years since I played with Bent as a drummer. When I played with him for the first time, he was a drummer. In those days, I played the guitar with a loud noise, he played two-bass drum. But progressively he started to play guitar and bass guitar, for Motorpsycho, he always plays the bass. Sometimes he recorded drum tracks at the studio though. For the last few albums, he had a chance to play drums. For example, the 2000 album "Let Them Eat Cake", he played drums for 2-3 songs. At latest new album's rehearsal, he played drums and I played the guitar, such a thing happened a lot. By those things, it was developed something new with a lot of energy. I mean, we could make songs which was done by only the drums and the guitars. It became very different from the past 3-4 albums which we really devoted times for arrangements. This new one is valued first impression much more than those.

Q: Well, those past albums had a lot of variety of music tastes, then this one is much more focused on rock format songs, it was caused by changing the band format?

SNAH: It was needed for us. Writing songs, thinking about the arrangements with many instruments, care of the things consciously on every detail, we really couldn't stand about those. We didn't wanna devote time for those things at the studio, we thought that we'd love to capture very first impulse this time, so we really didn't wanna spend time for arrangements for months. We wanted to trim the things we never need all, then we hoped to increase the functionality of songs.

Q: Did you have things which were most important to writing songs or arranging songs for this album?

SNAH: Any "riff" was very important, we focused on the songs' functionality this time. Many songs on past some albums were hard to play on the stage. Those were really "studio albums". Those songs were arranged with complicated studio technology, so it was hard to play on the stages, really. But I think we don't need to care about that this time.

Q: The sound is going to be very simple, and another side, this album became high volume 2 discs. Of course you guys made a lot of 2 discs albums before, but why this time you chose this again?

SNAH: Those were result from how many songs we could make. When we run through for months, we are going to have many amount of songs. Not all those are going to well at the recording, but if almost of those songs have enough results, then if we think they're gonna be well done for the album, there's no reason to cut them out. We better think we hope to all of those put together for the album.

Q: Then didn't you think you cut some songs and release as one disc or you thought that you would release them to separate as two discs, like one is "Black Hole" and another is " "Blank Canvas" like that?

SNAH: Of course we explored all possibilities (laughs) . But it became a good old "double album". The albums like "Let Them Eat Cake" and "Phanerothyme" were the pieces which had limitation, it was on the pop format as 40-50 minutes. So we've done those already, then we wanted to go ahead, to create the album which never have any limitation.

Q: If disc 1 is "Black Hole" and disc 2 is "Blank Canvas", what is the difference to separate between them?

SNAH: Well, the album rides on some pace through the disc one. There's that "Black Hole", so there's "Blank Canvas". I think there's a flow, like there's climax, then go into the different dimension to open up the world from that place.

Q: What was the reason to record the album in Holland?

SNAH: Because our main sound man, Pieter Kloos lives in Eindhoven and he has his studio there. We've been working with him about 15 years, he's doing all of Motorpsycho's live sound since 1994. This time he, me and Bent, only three of us were in the studio, we seldom had touch to outside world for two months, we just did our things there. It was a very strong experience.

Q: That studio location was influenced on matter of this album?

SNAH: The place Eindhoven is like our second home town. We have a lot of friends there. We don't get drunk every night though. Holland is a very cozy country for us. Since 1993, we play there every year without question.

Q: By the way, you're an Norwegian band, but you belong on a label called Stickman Records which is based in Germany. How come you became to have it this way?

Snah: We really take precedence for our own movements and doings before any others. Maybe on a major label, which would be so hard to do. We hope to care for ourselves for our path or routing, which is the most important thing for us. We never wanna compound about when and how to release an album, which is the reason why we keep running on with Stickman.

Q: I have an image which you're, if I say, your stance is in the between on the major label which is too much emphasis the business things and on an indie label which has limitation against your own acting.

Snah: I know. Absolutely. With P-Vine in Japan, it's through Stickman. So Stickman is just like an agent who spreads our music to the whole of the world. In Scandinavia, we're dealing with Sony, but other places, Stickman works for us.

Q: By the way, one of the episodes about you which said that "When he band stays in hometown, Trondheim, the band practices 6 days in a week, at least for 4 hours.". Is it still true?

SNAH: Until Geb left the band in 2003, it was true, it was our natural routing. After that, I worked music for Norwegian Royal Theater, Bent devoted his time for, as producer, and Geb devoted his time for his own music. I guess in 2003, such a "work ethic" was gone. But in the last year, when we started to make songs for new album, it came back. It was like we were gonna do it in 5 days, 10 days in a week! We have to do those ways, if not, we can't make real satisfied album definitely. We sink in our own music deeply, we just play the music, sometimes we take an objective view against those, then we try to finish our materials.

Q: With this release, you are going to play in your hometown in April, then early May you will play in Germany and Holland. I've heard that you will add dutch drummer Jacco van Rooji as a support member for the tour, how come you play with him?

SNAH: We know him since our first European tour. He played in the band called Alabama Kids, and we became friends with the band, in the early 1990s we played together about 15 shows in Europe. So he's been our friend in person and as the drummer about 10 years. He always comes to see us play also. So we've been in touch with him naturally. He will join us as support member for some tours after this. Also we're trying to play with a keyboard player now. We don't know it's going well or no right now though. Right now me and Bent only two of us are running through together, trying to play new songs. Jacco will come over here about 10 days later, so...After the tour, from June we will play at the festivals. But in June and July, that world cup thing stops everything in Europe, so it's totally impossible to book gigs during that period. It's really crazy! I like football, but it's really freak!

Q: We hope for your next Japan tour.

SNAH: We hope to go back to Japan, if possible in fall time. We don't talk that much about it though. We spent 14 days in Japan two years ago, it was really really fun. We play at Quruili's Monster show (Hyakki Yakou).

Q: How did you think about them?

SNAH: I thought they are pretty good, really. I became to like them a lot, and I was happy to know them. Please say hi to Queruli guys. I remember about them often, with their smiles.

Q: Last year you released an album which collaborated with horn section of Jaga Jazzist, do you have someone to make music together personally?

SNAH: Of course I'd love to create music with Bent as long as I can (laughs). Any others...well...we've been collaborating with the people who are linked by fate. Also almost of them are our friends before we started to make music together. In the first place, Motorpsycho itself started like that. If you have a person who you want to make music together, but before we go into that process, I need to be a friend with them. It's very important. So our case is, we never need to ask to play with us to very standing famous musicians, or celebrity composers.

Q: Well, so the roots as guitarist of yourself were what kind of music genre or musicians?

SNAH: At the first, Frank Marino and Ritchie Blackmore.

Q: Ah!

SNAH: (laughs) Then punk came, listened to Husker Du and Bob Mould a lot. Sonic Youth was favorite also, listened to a lot. At a time, 60's music, too. Neil Young or Grateful Dead are very important to me. I've been listening a lot of other music, too. If we talk about jazz, Coltrane and so on. Talk about the guitarist, I love Sonny Sharrock.

Q: OK. would you tell us what kind of music lately and listen to a lot as a guide?

SNAH: I listen to Johnny Winter a lot anyway. And a 70's hard rock band called Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush. Also early Soft Machine albums. I listen to them a lot, too. The record I bought lately was "Black Woman" by Sonny Sharrock, which is 70's free jazz material. Sonny's wife sings like Yoko Ono and his guitar is really on free form and very strong.


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